leadership incorporated blog

June 21, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: 3 reasons you should be aiming higher right now

How are you backpedaling right now?

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how many people I hear putting the brakes on their dreams and goals. They believe the buzz that opportunities are down, incomes are down, revenues are down. They think as a result they should adjust and shoot down.

Even among people and businesses who are doing okay, there is a feeling of complacency. People who two years ago were less satisfied with their situations are more content now although they may have less.

Nothing inherently wrong with this. Studies show that there is a strong direct relationship between gratitude and happiness. A little appreciation and awareness of others can’t be a bad thing. Right? Right.

Except. What seems to come along with the gratitude is a little voice that says

“You should accept what you have
and not go for anything more.”

Or

“Who are you to think you can move up now.
You’d better look for something less.”

Do you have a voice like this? Is there anything in there that’s holding you back? Saying, “Now is not the time.” Or, “Who are you to…?”

What if you could be both appreciative AND aspire to take your success to the next level. Right now. Without any doubt, guilt or hesitation?

What if your quest for success is  imperative right now?

How did we all agree that success could only mean the individual accumulation of achievements, money and goods?

What if we redefined success in a way that helps to heal the wounds of the last few years, and longer?

Some organizations have already rewritten their mission to include this expanded vision of success.

Many people have always lived their lives in this way.

We need more.

Let these 3 principles inspire your success and you won’t believe the abundance that comes to you:

People: Aspire to succeed in ways that help others to succeed. By the way, the more people you help to succeed the more opportunities, resources, relationships, respect, and yes, even money, naturally flow to you.

Planet: Aspire to succeed in ways that heal our world, or at the very least do no harm. If we don’t all band together and get active, success may become irrelevant in our lifetime.

Profit: Aspire to increase your personal well-being and share a percentage. It doesn’t help others for us to be less than we can be. We are better positioned to contribute from a position of wealth. We have a responsibility to strive for more and share.

How can you bring these principles into your definition of success?
What will you do first?

I’d love to hear, if you want to share.

June 14, 2010

INSPIRED TO SUCCEED: Are the goals you’re setting setting you up to fail?

Lately. I see a lot of people putting more and more hours and energy in to creating success without seeing the results they want. Yet they continue to work harder and harder. They are frustrated. They blame themselves. They wonder if they’ve lost the it they used to have.

Once we start to talk, I often notice that they haven’t done a good job of defining and setting their objectives. They haven’t done the work of getting really clear about what they want or visualizing the path that will produce the right results. Yet, they’re doing doing doing like crazy — and burning themselves out in the process.

If you feel like you’re working too hard for too little return, here are some principles of setting goals and objectives that are much more likely to lead you where you want to go.

First I want to make a distinction between a goal and an objective. A goal is a general intention: “more work,” “a promotion,”  “a new job.”

An objective is much more specific: “25% increase in sales,” “Making my promotion to Director permanent,” “Landing a COO position.”

I hear far more people speaking in goal language than objective language.

Last week we talked about getting specific, here’s how to go about it:
You may have heard of the concept of SMART objectives. These are objectives that are:
Specific
Measurable
Actionable
Realistic and
Time-based

Let’s take Mark, for example. Mark is the Owner and President of a mid-sized technology company. Business is down and they need more income or they will have to reduce their workforce and may lose key talent that will inhibit their ability to survive long-term. So let’s look at Mark’s goal of “more income” in the SMART Objective context.

Is “more income” specific? Measurable?Actionable? Realistic? Time-based?  You can probably see that it’s none of the above.

So let’s work with Mark to develop a SMART goal. Mark is in various stages of conversation with 7 potential clients right now. So let’s say Mark’s new objective is to bring in $2.6 million in revenues by end of year by moving conversations forward with all seven clients, focused on a particular product. Mark will set up meetings with all seven, provide product information and incentivize them with a price reduction to act by September 15 with the intention of getting 2 of the 7 clients to move forward.

Do you see how this is much more specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-based?

So this is good. But it’s not good enough.

When I talk to Mark a bit more about what he really wants, I learn that while this objective appears to address his immediate need of more income, he is not aligned with it. What Mark really wants is to sell the business and retire. Part of his pitch is personal service and he believes that if he closes these clients he will get stuck in the business for another 10 years. Can you see how this thinking might cause Mark to sabotage himself, to not come to those selling conversations with his best energy and to just go through the motions in a way that potential clients can feel his lack of engagement?

So while it’s important to have SMART objectives, they don’t go far enough.

For objectives to really set you up to succeed, they need to also have IMPACT.

Objectives with impact are:

IMPORTANT

MISSION-BASED

PURPOSEFUL

ACCOUNTABLE

CLEAR

THOUGHTFUL

So what happens if we bring what Mark really wants: to sell the business and retire, into the mix? While increased income is important to Mark and the business, it isn’t mission-based. Mark’s mission is to sell the business and retire. So the objective above would be in conflict with his mission, and therefore would not bring the results Mark wants to see.

Mark’s IMPACT objective might look more like this:  It turns out that one of Mark’s senior execs, Mike, might be interested in buying the business in a few years. So the new objective begins with our SMART objective above, but includes Mike in the conversations with those 7 companies. Mark and Mike will work together to redesign the pitch to include Mike in the personal service guarantee, purposefully setting up the conditions for Mark to sell to Mike. To create accountability, Mark and Mike decide to schedule regular check-in meetings and set up structures to keep things moving forward and identify any problems that need fine-tuning. Each persons steps are spelled out clearly and agreed to by both.  Mark and Mike plan to spend a lot of time in the potential client meetings listening, so as to thoughtfully incorporate client needs into their pitch and plans to maximize the likelihood of success.

Can you see how this objective is still SMART and sets Mark up to have the IMPACT he wants? If what’s most important to Mark is to retire, this objective solves the problem of needing revenues while it sets up a clear path to retirement and the sale of the business. This objective is going to motivate and energize Mark. He’s not going to feel he’s misleading anyone. He can bring his full energy and creativity to the process.

Apply this specific thinking to your objectives, whether you are stepping into a new position, leading a company through a change, searching for work, or anything else, and watch the difference it makes.

Let me know how it goes.

June 7, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Are You Being Specific Enough?

Ever feel like you’re going nowhere fast?

This is easy to change but few people do.

We tend to just speed up, work harder and not get there even faster.

This is true whether you are a leader in a $500 Million+ organization or are in transition and looking for work – or anything in between.

What gets in people’s way more than anything (except their mindset) is that they haven’t developed their ability to get specific.

Let me give you a pedestrian example:

Have you ever set a goal to lose weight?

Were you able to lose it?

If so, what happened once you reached the goal?

Many people who have gained and lost and gained and lost (or who continually diet without losing weight) have yet to realize that when they say, think and act on “losing weight” they aren’t being specific enough.

Most people approach their business and success in the same nonspecific way and get the same non-results. I’ve seen CEOs whose lack of specificity results in maintaining the status quo at a time when change is essential to survival. And I see people looking for work whose lack of specificity keeps them from even knowing what steps they can take that will result in paying work.

What keeps people from getting specific?

They don’t know how to do the work of getting specific. There are ways to improve your ability to clearly define your goals. I see a lot of people who haven’t yet learned how to do this, yet who think they should already know what the specifics are. When they don’t already know, and think they should, they get stuck. I’ll be talking more about some of these over the coming weeks.

They are afraid to get specific. Many people doubt they will actually achieve the specifics they set. They don’t want the disappointment,  so they simply don’t engage in the process. Ironically, they live with a low grade of perpetual disappointment as a result.

They think the first specifics they come up with will be the ones they’re stuck with. Critical to the process of getting specific to create what you want is knowing that creating what you want involves jumping in, daring to have clear opinions, making decisions and knowing that those decisions are not cast in granite.

The first steps in getting specific are internal.

1. Open to the possibility that you shouldn’t know the specifics until you’ve gone through the process for finding clarity.

2. Dare to believe success is not just possible but likely. It’s amazing how when you combine a clear and specific vision of where you’re going, a plan for setbacks, and commitment to the long-run your odds of success dramatically increase.

3. Give yourself permission to get messy. Go ahead and define specifics that might be the “wrong” direction. I think you’ll find there is no such thing as a wrong direction. Even if you end up doing a 180 and redefining specifics that are exactly the opposite of where you began, that first move will have played a key role in sending you in the “right” direction. The only wrong move is not getting into the process of defining the specifics.

4. Trust your gut. You have the specifics inside you if you are willing to look.

Next time let’s talk about some tools for setting specific goals.

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